The Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCUtah) is working in partnership with the Department of Workforce Services (DWS), the Salt Lake Chamber and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) to build the Rural Workforce Network initiative. Partnership with rural counties will be key to the program’s success. A note from EDCUtah’s Alan Rindisbacher, Director of Community Strategy, says he appreciates the involvement of San Juan County’s economic development team as the program builds momentum.
In the program, DWS is prepared to list jobs that have remote work opportunities, using #ruraljobs as the job link. Utah State University’s (USU) Rural Online Initiative (ROI) program is established to prepare and certify companies and potential employees for remote rural work opportunities. EDCUtah and the Chamber have identified dozens of Utah companies that could remotely employ rural Utah workers, and are working with the companies to engage them in the program.
A California-based healthcare company which recently expanded customer service operations in Salt Lake County has also started hiring and training remote workers in Sevier and Iron counties. A site selection company is also very interested in the program, and notes that Utah is ahead of other states in establishing a proactive remote rural worker program.
The majority of new projects are in manufacturing, as office and technology based projects have slowed dramatically because of COVID-19 related work-from-home changes. Many companies are adopting continued work-from-home strategies, and most are in a wait and see posture to see how the pandemic begins to resolve.
Of the 85 currently active projects, half are in the manufacturing sector, 15% information/technology, and a lesser percentage in sectors of arts, entertainment and recreation, service, distribution and food service. The good news for San Juan County? One of the new prospects in July has selected San Juan as the number one Utah location contender for its agribusiness expansion. Congratulations to Natalie Randall for presenting the county so well in the RFI response, which has resulted in a second-stage review